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--- Issued June 1, 2013

In 2013, we are extremely proud to feature in our annual calendar 12 of our employees who started their careers with us when they were residents of public housing. We think their individual stories are compelling enough to feature on a monthly basis throughout the year -- to honor these employees and to help celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie:

Nikolay Bovkun -- June, 2013

Nikolay Bovkun and his family.

“Imagine taking your whole family away from the home they know and love, all the way across the world to a different country,” says Nikolay Bovkun.

"You have very little money, seven young children to care for, and no idea what challenges you may face. We arrived in America with $200 and three suitcases on December 10, 1993.

“We first lived in a cramped one-bedroom apartment that was very expensive. We struggled with even the most basic aspects of day-to-day life.”

After two months, the Erie International Institute informed the Bovkun family that they qualified for a spot as residents in the Erie Housing Authority.

“The whole family was excited to move from a small apartment into the large, clean, better accommodating home that was in a neighborhood near other immigrant families.

“This transition proved to be one of the most difficult, but also, one of the most worthwhile ones in our journey,” Nikolay says.

He notes that “Mr. ‘Bucky’ Bucarelli was a wonderful manager at Lake City Dwellings and was very kind to all the residents. My family was also impressed with his fast response to service calls.”

After four years of living as a Housing Authority resident, Nikolay was offered a full-time maintenance position with the Housing Authority, for which he has worked 14 years. The family lived in public housing for seven years before buying their own house.

“It was because of the Authority we could afford the house, and I give thanks for my Authority job. I am very grateful that the Authority provided me with this stable position to provide for my family.

“While my children were in middle school, the Erie Housing Authority awarded them with bonds for perfect attendance and for being honor students. This helped them want to go to school and further their education.

“I am very proud of my children and the way the Erie Housing Authority provided them with the boost they need for their future.”